The Disability Studies Program at the University of Washington presents:


A one-day public symposium examining the history and significance of eugenics in Washington, which in 1909 became the second state to enact a forced sterilization law. This event will provide a forum for dialogue about the eugenic past and its current implications.

Friday, October 9, 2009
9 a.m. – 3 p.m.
UW Tower Auditorium, 4333 Brooklyn Ave. NE, Seattle, Washington 98195

Registration is required. This event is free and open to the public.
Lunch will be provided at no cost to registered attendees.

To register and for further information, go to:
Or contact Tammi Olson, tammio@uw.edu (email), 425-774-4446 (voice), 425-774-9303 (fax), 425-771-7438 (TTY).

For information about symposium content, email Joanne Woiak, UW Disability Studies Program, jwoiak@uw.edu.

To view the live and archived web broadcast of the symposium, go to http://www.UWTV.org.

The symposium will feature panel presentations by national and local scholars and advocates, addressing “Disability in the History of Eugenics” and “Perspectives on the Relevance of Eugenics Today.” The roundtable format will include ample time for audience discussion. The intended audience includes academics, community advocates, individuals with disabilities, clinicians, service providers, policy makers, and interested members of the general public.

Co-sponsors: UW Office of the Provost, UW Center for Genomics and Healthcare Equality, Seattle Children’s Treuman Katz Center for Pediatric Bioethics, DBTAC Northwest ADA Information Center.


  1. At the Ashley X blog, Huahima writes:

    “All this looking back reminds me of the fact that the initial Ashley paper of 2006 mentioned eugenics. There is a part Dr. Diekema and Dr. Gunther wrote about forced sterilization as “past abuses against this population.” But then they added right away;

    These decisions were based not on the best interest of the patient but rather on the perceived interest of society and, in some cases, the interest of parents or caretakers. The lessons of these and other abuses must be remembered, but past abuses should not dissuade us from exploring novel therapies that offer the potential for benefit.

    In the Ashley segment of Larry King Live of January 12, 2007, when Ms Joni Tada expressed her concern about future eugenics, Dr. Norman Fost said;

    This claim of eugenics. Eugenics is about coercive government policy to sterilize people for fear that they would make more retarded children. That’s not what’s going on here. This is not state action. She did not have her uterus out because of fear of creating retarded children. It was done to help her, not society.

    Maybe it is not eugenics in 2009 to alter disabled people by technology and genomics or whatever will become available in our wonderful future so long as it is to help them or it is in their best interest?”

    All I (Spirit) want to say in response–and I’ll say it here because I can’t find a comment thread at the Ashley blog–is that when what’s deemed in someone’s interest is either mutilating their body and stemming their growth for the convenience of others, or even bringing about their painless death (not Ashley, yet, but consider the Annie Farlow case), appealing to what’s in a patient’s best interest in the name of not-eugenics is it’s own sort of evil.

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